Aug 31, 2009

Gavin Maughfling

This is Gavin Maughfling's first time in the Trail and he is opening up a house and home studio full of paintings. The relationships between photography, painting, time and geography in this body of work are very interesting. His recreated archive images include black and white Victoriana, 1950s Americana and current international webcam footage, while his new work uses recent personal photographs. So lots to see in Church Hill Road and a beautiful garden as well .........

1. Please tell us about the work you will be showing in the 2009 E17 Art Trail?
The exhibition will be throughout my house with work from different series:

  • - a body of paintings which originated with webcam images of remote landscapes from locations from Antarctica to Alaska, which explore ideas of the sublime and landscape as a pyschological space.
  • - a series of recent paintings which are about hidden histories and intimate relationships, based on archive photographs of gay couples.
  • - the main focus of my participation, my most recent work, in which I use my own recent history, originating in family snapshots and video footage of an extended family holiday stay in the Stockholm Archipelago.
These include small oil on gesso panels. in these new works I'm interested in ideas of companionship, familial and couple relationships and the sub-texts which lie underneath a family gathering.

2. Could you have done this work anywhere, or is it specific to E17? Did you respond to this year’s Art Trail theme ‘At Home’?
This is work I was already engaged in; my relationship to the theme At Home is perhaps in thinking about how my work sits in a domestic space, how I use my own home to display and reflect on the work I make. Apart from organising my studio into an exhibition space, I'll show the rest of the work as it usually is in a domestic setting.

3. Have you participated in the E17 Art Trail before?
No - I've always been away this time of year!

4. How does your work this year relate to your previous artistic practice?
As I outlined above, in some ways there are new themes - the introduction of personal archive source material rather than images found on the web - but I am also bringing together strands - landscape, personal relationships - which I have explored in earlier works. All of my work uses photography as its source material. In the case of earlier series this has been material found on the internet: webcam footage, personal websites, American college sites.

Chance discovery and unearthing of imagery not widely seen has been an important part of the process. In the new paintings I'm showing for 'Archipelago' I am using personal photographs and video stills with a more direct autobiographical link. I these paintings I have attempted to work towards a more fluid and open relation beween my work and its photographic source material in order to achieve deeper layers of ambiguity and multiple meaning through the handling of paint, gesture, composition and colour.

5. What challenges (if any) do you face in realising this work?
A sense of distance from very personal material, so that I can critique the work as I would normally do. The small gesso panels have been a great challenge, in terms of scale (for me, very small) and surface (I usually paint on canvas).

6. Who is this work for?
Hard question! All - my work I think is something that elicits a strong response from a number of people out of any particular group - it's always impossible to predict or categorise who will find themselves engaged by what I do. I think the layers of ambiguity in my work perhaps enable it to strike connections with viewers even if they do not have obvious direct links with the specific subject matter - this is in any event what I would hope for.

7. As well as being an artist what else do you do?
I lecture part-time, at Putney School of Art and Design, and at the University of Hertfordshire.

8. What is your favourite place in E17?
Walking home through St Mary's Churchyard.

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